Last week, congratulations were in order for the Los Angeles Lakers for winning back to back NBA titles via a classic game seven victory over the Boston Celtics. As the two most decorated basketball franchises gave the world bit of nostalgia, the Washington Wizards celebrated their future by drafted Kentucky guard John Wall No. 1 overall.
Now that the NBA draft has come and gone, basketball gurus are focused on a pending free agency era that will likely cause a huge power shift in the league (except for that team with the gold home jerseys in Southern California).
Who’s going where? Which max contract players are going to pair up together the next four-to-five years? Which teams that prepared their cap space for this are going to get shafted?
The answers to these inquires among others will begin to come to fruition beginning July 1. Here are some thoughts and predictions I have regarding the remainder of the NBA off-season:
- I believe we’ve seen the last of Phil Jackson as a head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers or any other team. The most successful coach in history ended this past season with a record setting 11th NBA championship. Getting to that level consistently has taken a huge toll on him, and I think he’s just too tired to pursue a fourth “three-peat.”
- If anyone should want Phil Jackson to continue coaching next year it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers. They’re in need of a competent head coach and will lose out on one Byron Scott to the Lakers if Jackson retires. Hiring Brian Shaw for his first ever head coaching gig is not the answer.
- Rasheed Wallace has never been considered a role model, but he should serve as one to Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson. Both future Hall of Famers should know it’s time for them to just walk away.
- Dwayne Wade is not going anywhere this off-season. Not even to Chicago. Nobody can sell him a better future than his current Miami Heat.
- I asked a few of my friends the other day who would be the better player in three-to-four years—Lebron James or Kevin Durant? The majority, including myself, said Durant because he’s the more likely of the two to improve his game.
- Looking at my local NBA team, the Philadelphia 76ers, Andre Iguodala MUST BE TRADED this summer for two reasons (neither of which is Evan Turner). First, Iggy’s presence interferes with the development of Thaddeus Young at his natural small forward position (starting him at PF hurts the team, I don’t care what Doug Collins says). In the long run, Young will be the better of the two. Second, while he’s clearly better off as a second or third option, the second A.I. thinks he’s on the same superstar level as the original. He needs to be somewhere he can be put in his place (Miami??)
- Whether it involves a sign and trade involving Michael Beasley or not, Chris Bosh will pair up with Wade in Miami.
- Another player not leaving their current team is Dirk Nowitski. Nobody his going to outbid Mark Cuban for him.
- As hard as they worked to clear cap space and market their franchises, the Chicago Bulls, New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks are going to lose out in the free agency period. The eventual signings of the Carlos Boozers, David Lees and Joe Johnsons of the league will be perceived as huge failures publicly.
- In Chicago they have a playoff team, Derrick Rose, a huge media marker and lots of cap space. They also still have Jerry Reinsdorf running the organization. This is the same man who dismantled one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. As quickly as the Bulls assemble a contender, they break up the roster. Think about it. Since Michael Jordan left, what marquee free agent has said “I want to play for the Bulls.” Because of Reinsdorf, no notable player or coach has finished his career in the Windy City. That includes the greatest of all time.
- Prediction: Ray Allen will sign a three-year deal with Oklahoma City. The third year will be a team option. This will be a lethal addition to an already potent squad.
- In my opinion, the Nets and Knicks are making fools of themselves. They’re promoting the celebrities and the biggest media market in the world. Can they build a winning organization? Lebron and Wade will both get a ton of money, and they wouldn’t mind the popularity they would receive in the Big Apple. But neither wants to sit around and watch Kobe Bryant keep collecting Jim O’Brien trophies.
- Tyson Chandler is foolish to even think about opting out of his last year. He’ll never see $12 million a year again.
- After their return to glory, age has caught up to the Boston Celtics. Two Finals appearances against the Lakers and one championship had to be worth it.
- As unattractive as it is, Elton Brand’s contract can be traded. There are teams out there that could use his services. San Antonio and Charlotte come to mind as potential trade partners.
- I know it’s been fun these past seven years, but welcome back to lottery status, Cleveland.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings will improve in 2010-2011 more than any team except one…
- Prediction: Lebron James will sign a max contract with (drum roll)…the Washington Wizards. Even with the pending trade to take on Kirk Hinrich’s contract, the Wizards could still make moves to attract Lebron to the nation’s capital. I think a sign and trade with the Phoenix Suns involving Amare Stoudemire and Gilbert Arenas is very realistic. Regardless of what the Wizards say, Arenas and No. 1 pick John Wall won’t be a good fit together. The Suns will want something in return for Stoudemire, and they need to prepare for the eventual departure of Steve Nash. With Wall and Stoudemire, Lebron James will be attracted to potentially forming the best “Big 3” over the next five-to-six years. Wizards coach Flip Saunders is not to be underestimated either. Although he’s never won a championship, his record speaks for itself.
Overall, this NBA free agency period is setting up to be one of the craziest in history. Just about every team has prepared for this year each in their own way. The unpredictable will occur beginning Thursday.